"She always walks in the room with a smile on her face.” “She remembers certain details about every one of her patients.” “She really cares.” “She doesn’t sugar coat things, and especially when a patient becomes a teenager. Moms really like that.” Those are sentiments you hear over and over when patients and colleagues talk about long-time pediatrician, Dr. Hendrica Sisk. At the end of this month, Dr. Sisk retires after practicing for just over 33 years, 21 of those years serving our patients of The South Bend Clinic. She has always enjoyed a very loyal patient base that doesn’t want to leave when they have “outgrown” a pediatrician. Michelle Church is one of them.
“My mom had warned me, when you turn 18, you’ll need to find a new doctor. I didn’t want to leave. I avoided it for years, even going to her after I went to college,” Church says. Michelle just recently started as a medical technician here at The South Bend Clinic and reminisces saying the second picture in her scrapbook is Dr. Sisk holding her as a baby. She says she looked forward to giving Dr. Sisk a huge hug on her second day and was teary-eyed when she heard she was retiring. Dr. Sisk herself is fielding some of those emotions herself.
“I will miss working with the families, watching kids grow and develop and hopefully have a long, healthy life,” Dr. Sisk says. “Another aspect about being a pediatrician I have really enjoyed is helping parents gain confidence in being parents.” When asked if her work has changed over the last 40 years she says, “A lot of it is the same. But our care of asthma has gotten better and our vaccines are better. We also have fewer kids in the hospital today.”
Dr. Sisk was a past president of the medical staff at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center and among her unique abilities is her work in pediatric cardiology. For many years, she’s been reading the echocardiograms and EKG’s of kids in our region. Colleagues like Dr. Thomas Soisson says he can always count on her to have a good professional opinion, be happy to answer questions and give a good, thoughtful response.
“Dr. Sisk is clearly passionate about keeping her kids healthy and returning them to health when they are sick,” Soisson says. He will miss working alongside her and says many appreciate her ability to have a deeper conversation on a direct level, a quality many appreciate. And he says she’s also fun to talk to. “If you say something inappropriate,” he laughs, “You might get ‘the look.’ We all know the look.”
After completing her Pediatric residency at Georgetown and her fellowship in Pediatric Cardiology at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Sisk joined the previously independent group of Michiana Pediatrics in 1984. Michiana Pediatrics then joined with The South Bend Clinic in 1996 and subsequently relocated to the Eddy campus upon completion of the Clinic’s major building project in 2009.
Many don’t know that Dr. Sisk is a 9-year cancer survivor and a nearly life-long Mishawaka resident. She lived in Germany during her medical training and speaks Dutch and French and she’s planning to take classes during retirement to perfect those skills.
After retirement, she and her husband of 43 years, Doug, are moving to Santa Barbara, California to be closer to one of their daughters. They bought a 1980’s condo that they are rehabbing and she’s looking forward to that. She’s also looking forward to doing volunteer work in her community, perhaps in child advocacy, and plans to volunteer with the League of Women Voters. Her colleagues say no one should worry that she will be bored during retirement. “Knowing Dr. Sisk as we do, she’s not going to stop contributing to those around her,” Dr. Soisson says.
Dr. Sisk, thank you for your service. And the best of luck in your retirement! You will be missed!
Posted on June 26, 2017